By Gene and Katie Hamilton
Spend time nosing around the basement and make notes and take pictures of what you find. This is not always easy because the space may have already become a storage area so it may involve moving things around. Look at these areas as you plan to redefine the lower level of your home. You need to know about what systems are in place and what features can be used to become part of the new space. And before you begin to plan a budget for the makeover it's important to know the cost and what's involved in replacing any of the elements of the space that you can use.
Exterior of Basement
- Outside entrance or stairwell - check the condition of stairs and access
- Window well - should be free of water and debris
- Foundation and walls - look for signs of seepage through cracks, efflorescence (white powdery residue), and mold or mildew
Interior of Basement
- Hand rail access - should be secure
- Stair treads - are the treads and risers open or enclosed?
- Windows and doors - note the location and decide if they require repair or maintenance or to be removed and replaced
- Flooring - are there cracks in the cement floor or slab that need repair?
- Sump pump - is it free of water and debris? Test the float pump to see it works
- Ceiling joists - look for signs of rot or pest infestation, measure the height from the floor to the bottom of the joists to see that it’s at least 90 inches or 7 ½ feet which is required by many building codes
- Electrical service - find the amperage/voltage rating and number of circuits on the electrical panel; is it limited or expandable? Are there grounded wires or damaged wires? Are the outlets grounded and GFCIs (ground fault circuit interrupters)?
- Lighting fixtures - note location and number of switches
- Plumbing - what type of water lines (copper, plastic, galvanized) and how are they connected and secured? Locate the main water line, shutoff valves and antibackflow device; locate the drain line(s) look for signs of leaks
You'll find job costs of 8 of the most popular basement improvements at Pricing Out Basement Fix Up Projects.
More related articles are Stages of a Basement Remodel and Evaluating a Basement’s Potential.